The 30 Squadron and Servicing Unit RNZAF

Newsletter Archives 2003

 

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2003
Newsletter No. 30
February 2003
Newsletter No. 31
April 2003
Newsletter No. 32
June 2003
Newsletter No. 33
August 2003
Newsletter No. 34
October 2003
Newsletter No. 35
December 2003

 

 

2003

Issue No. 30
February 2003

 

30 Squadron and Servicing Unit Newsletter No. 30
February 2003

Greetings to all fellow members, wives and friends,

It seems only a short while ago that we were all waiting apprehensively for the beginning of the millennium, year 2000 and now three years later the only thing that has happened is the we are all three years older and Father time appears to be coming more active these days.

Remember my previous remarks concerning the possible use of a motor scooter on Bouganville? Two of 30 SU servicing units members have since replied, the first being from Laury Fairey (Instrument section) who writes: “As far as I am aware this was an American brand and came as an RNZAF issue, it might have been a Cushman brand, I'm a bit vague after all this time and my memory being what it is. The enclosed photo is all I have about the motor scooter. I used it to scoot around the revetments doing D.I.'s on the aircraft. Hope this is of some use”.

The second letter was rather a surprise because this one was from an Armourer no less than Russ (Happy) Cummins at Hastings who advises that it was originally issued to the armaments officer and he quotes thus:

"I'm responding to your cry for information on the motor scooter that was used on Bouganville. Although age has dimmed my memory I can remember it fairly clearly.

I can only assume that it was of American make on the belief that as all of our equipment was of American origin, so was the motor scooter. It had a low centre of gravity and very little power as I found out when I tried to (do) a broadside on the vehicle.

As I recall it was allocated to the Armaments Officer who had difficulty riding it. Being an enterprising Armourer I probably said to him when he came close enough “Can I ride your motor scooter Sir?” Whether he said, “You may” I can't remember but I did ride it several times as did other Armourers. Eventually it disappeared probably because it became a bit of a plaything for the Armourers.

 

Because of it's low center of gravity it was not meant to be used for ‘rough' riding and its power was such that you could probably run faster.

In spite of its deficiencies it provided a bit of fun."

What is now clear is that we certainly did have a motor scooter as part of our equipment issue, and was probably of American origin, so perhaps our American friend Art Surtees of VMBT232 (who incidentally is a motor car buff) could be able to supply some further interesting information concerning their possible use in the American Forces.

Furthermore our own 30 SU equipment specialist John Freakes of Whangarei may also be able to throw some more light on the subject!

Sadly I have to announce the passing of another of our American friends Kendall Winton Everson (Ken to his friends) on December 14th 2002. His wife Barbara kindly mailed me a selection of pamphlets including his obituary notice and a beautiful spreadsheet covering various coloured snap shots of his life from early childhood through to recent times.

Although he was 81 years of age he packed twice that amount of living into his years, which involved flying, sailing, his motorcycle and the Mormon Church, which was the dominant force in his life. As a Senior Captain in United Airlines he still managed to find time as Marine Colonel in command of several reserve squadrons to test fly some new Navy aircraft and recently enjoyed testing and flying a friends home-built experimental replica – (1930) Curtiss Hawk P-6E Bi-plane Fighter.

Recently I was on a long telephone conversation with the great Gerry Burton who must now be approaching the 90 years young age? For those who can't remember he is one of our few remaining 30 Squadron TBF pilots and he still sounds very much like the young daring brash Sgt-Pilot I knew in 8GR at Gisborne.

 

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In fact, he reminded me that it was about time I published the photo of he and Alex McLeod (30 SU WAG) who are pictured with the wreath laid at the airport memorial a while back, and so here it is for all to admire and I sincerely hope that all your admirers are not disappointed.

Another matter that we discussed concerned some hair-raising experiences that a number of our transport drivers had taken guiding TBF's along the taxi-ways at night without lights as a strict and complete black-out prevailed due to the close proximity of the Japanese forces.

These were described in a previous newsletter but never resolved and Gerry was now certain that the Jeep leading them had two tiny blue lights, which were very difficult to see unless, close up to the vehicle.

This of course fits in with the recollections of the driver who still remembers the tense moments when the aircraft appeared to be catching up with the jeep!!

In a previous newsletter (#24, April 2002) Bryan Baber as a Sgt Pilot in 8GR Gisborne in describing his hilarious account of collecting a Jar of gherkins referred to the then Commanding Officers who went on to become the RNZAF's Chief of Air Staff. There has now been further developments in that one of our members had suggested that it was possible that the top NZ news presenter in Television NZ (Judy Bailey) may in fact be his daughter, and in due course she advised me in a letter that she was the daughter of Air Vice Marshall I. G. Morrison the man in question, but never knew much about what he did because of his important position with the armed Forces.

Both she and her family would like to hear of any information relating to him, and accordingly I forwarded her a copy of that particular incident, but to date I have heard nothing else from them,

 

The last newsletter received from Art Surtees editor of US Marines Squadron VMBT-232 referred to the fact that NZ being such a small country was fortunate in being able to continue with reunions as compared with the American personal who were scattered over vast regions.

Certainly the opportunity for reunions in NZ are far greater than our allies in USA and therefore let us be thankful and make the most of it while we are still able,

Art's comments are as follows:

“ I usually refer to something of interest in the NZ Squadron 30 newsletter that is sent to me by Wally Ingham. His last letter was very interesting regarding the special relationship that existed between our two organizations and so I decided that rather than just quote certain items, I would reproduce the whole letter for all of you to see.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Their group still has ‘mini” reunions. They are fortunate in the fact that New Zealand is about two-thirds the size of California so the distances are not so great. As a matter of curiosity I checked the area in square miles and the USA is about 35 times the size of NZ.”

Another recent newsletter this time was from Robby Roberts editor of US Navy VT 302. He too suggests that his group, being scattered all over the USA, are having difficulty in arranging reunions.

Robby states that their first reunion occurred in 1982 some 39 years after the formation of their squadron. This was held in Phoenix and was followed by eleven more meetings each one a memorable success.

They all agree that it was one “helluva” ride while it lasted but R and R finally gave way to A and R.

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No more reunions are planned at this time, however they intend to keep the ball rolling with newsletters in the meantime.

Incidentally Robby's wife Lorey is not well at the moment and he has taken on the position of “chief cook and bottle-washer”. Robby, all of us down under in 30 Squadron/SU are thinking of you both. We send our best wishes and sincerely hope that Lorey has a speedy recovery in the not too distant future.

Something I have wanted to do is find enough space for the printing of these RNZAF and NZEF news service reports, which were printed in NZ papers early in 1944. They make good reading particularly the comments by Major Roland F. Smith and Squadron-Leader H. N. James.

Finally there may even be enough space for a group of Armourers proudly grouped around their cherry-picker wagon. They certainly look far better than they do now!

Sadly these attachments have not been supplied, sorry

Happy New Year to you all and please keep those letters coming,

Wally Ingham.

 

 

 

 

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Issue No. 31
April 2003

 

30 Squadron and Servicing Unit Newsletter No. 31
April 2003

Dear members

I have been having a very busy and hectic last six weeks mainly because I spent a wonderful and memorable week down in the Mainland at Christchurch early in March in order to visit my ailing sister who had been hospitalized following a serious illness.

Naturally I managed to alert our Southern members in advance, who went out of their way to ensure my visit was an enjoyable event.

Unfortunately it was impossible for my wife to travel with me because of her own debilitating arthritis even though she herself had not been back to Christchurch (my home town) since we departed back in 1955 to settle in Auckland, however my daughter volunteered as my minder particularly as she was also keen to revisit the city and her many cousins whom she barely remembered.

Thanks to Don Reed who rallied the troops, and put on a wonderful luncheon that was organized at a large restaurant at which all who were able to, attended. These where: Don and Hazel Reed (30 SU Radio section); Roy and Val Sawtell (30 SU); John Carpenter (30 SU transport); Thelma Peacock (30 SU wife of the late Frank Peacock who was the Turret gunner for the late Fred Ladd); Brenda Hughes (30 SU wife of the late Neil Hughes of the 30 SU Instrument section); Bonney Davies (30 SU wife of the late Alby Davis of 30 SU Instrument section); Ken Sellars (30 SU Instrument section); Bill Mitchell (30 SU Flight rigger, who incidentally traveled all the way from his home in Oamaru to enjoy the company of his old mates.); David Humm (Son of the late Ho Humm the Chinese armourer, who was pleased to attend on behalf of his father and mother Doris who unfortunately had to work).

 

Those not able to attend were: Barry Wilkie (30 SU Navigator, who had taken ill at the last moment); Jack Webb (30 SU Flight rigger, who was suffering eye trouble and unable to drive); Jim Creagh (30 SU Electrical section, who unfortunately was suffering from a bout of shingles and confined to his house for n indefinite period). I managed to have long telephone conversations with both of the above and it was most gratifying to hear how pleased they both were to hear from their North Island counterparts. In fact everyone involved in the luncheon expressed their pleasure in being able to participate in what was a truly a wonderful reunion and proof positive that our unique fellowship is alive and well.

The very next day Bonney Davis arrived at our Motel with a large number of photos which her husband had collected during WW1 and then proceeded to take us out o the RNZAF Museum and Wigram where we eagerly rushed into the main hall to view our one remaining Grumman TBF aircraft, but too our dismay and disappointment it was not on display, and after enquiring at the main reception we were told that it was held in the #3 hangar together with other stored aircraft such as a Lockheed Hudson, Canberra Fuselage, RNZAF Crash Launch, Sopwith Pup (WW1) and the ex mayor of Christchurch's official car which had been donated to the museum. Also there was a large collection of Vickers Vildbeeste and Vincent parts salvaged from various corners of NZ awaiting a restoration team.

I must say it was indeed a sad moment when one realized that with the exception of the salvaged remains of a crashed Douglas Dauntless dive bomber from 25 Squadron in the corner of the display hall, and a C47 Transport, there is no other operational aircraft which saw the bulk of the action against the Japanese Forces in the Pacific.

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Such aircraft as the P40 Kittyhawk, Lockheed Hudson and Lockheed Ventura, Grumman TBF, and Corsair F4U are conspicuous by their absence which makes one wonder if the authorities operating the museum have no interest whatsoever in the operation of the NZ air force in the Pacific in World War Two. Surely the balance of ex RNZAF personal still alive in NZ must have served in the Pacific Theatre and are entitled to a better display of combat aircraft which served NZ so well in its hour of need.

In this connection I would suggest that all who are members of the Air Force Association bring this poor state of affairs to their respective committees and request that there is a much larger coverage of Pacific WW2 combat aircraft displayed in the main hall of the RNZAF Wigram Air Museum.

Another matter of interest particularly concerning those who served in 8GR and other general NZ reconnaissance squadrons flying and maintaining our Vickers Vildbeeste and Vincent aircraft, is the problem facing the Wigram museum restoration staff in identifying the many bits and pieces of these aircraft, particularly as they are of another generation used to modern aircraft and no doubt were born well after these aircraft were retired.

I was pleased to be able to add a little input concerning the difference in these two aircraft with the exception of the tail trim mechanism in fact I checked with Gerald Barton, Bryan Baber and even Noel James all of whom were experienced Vildbeest/Vincent pilots, and all confirmed from their respective log books that they had regularly flown both types which rather surprised them a it was generally agreed by the experts that the Vildbeeste had a moveable tail plane operated by a Jack-screw, yet the Vincent did not have this mechanism. After a long deliberation and enquiries it was finally established that the latter had adjustable trim-tabs controlled by the same large wheel mounted close to the pilots seat, which finally explained why there was no difference whatsoever in the cockpit layout and the pilots changing from one type to the other were not aware of the different configurations.

 

Incidentally any of our members who happen to have their old original TTS course notes commonly known as the “Air Force Bible”, could you please advise the Wigram Museum restoration staff as these would be a marvelous source of information to them

Sadly I have to announce the passing of Arch Blyth one of our very original 30 SU members (an engine fitter) who unfortunately never had the opportunity to go overseas with us but instead became part of 31 SU and missed entirely our comradeship.

What happened was that Arch was posted from NZ to Australia in January 1943 to attend at Nowra Air Station a secret course on the latest torpedoes to be used in the then unknown TBF aircraft allocated to a new NZ unit to be called 30 Squadron. Arch himself was told he was now part of 30 SU Servicing Unit but was warned that under no circumstances could he reveal this information as no one else in NZ was yet aware of what was planned.

Arch attended the course together with some instrument and electrical airmen from NZ the actual lectures being conducted by an American instructor and occupied some four months intensive study.

Just before the course ended the group were addressed by Squadron Leader RG Hartshorn who advised that he was to command the new squadron, but that head-office had changed the role of the new TBF's from torpedo carrying, to the glide-bombing mode, and this course was now un-necessary. Rather than wasting this information they were instructed to complete the course and return to NZ, compile a report and the necessary maintenance notes which would then be filed for future possible use.

When Arch returned to NZ he was occupied in completing the report and then on posted to Hobsonville to assist with the assembly of the new TBF aircraft. When he finally arrived in Gisborne he was told that he was now posted to 31 Squadron as the compliment of 30 SU was now filled.

 

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Sadly he has always considered that he had been let down by RNZAF headquarters and to this end in his letters to me he always considered himself part of our establishment and fellowship.

Arch finally died in November 2002 following a major stroke and his son Ian R Blyth of Wellington recently advised of his passing in a letter dated 13th March.

One of the great characters of 30 Squadron was Fred Ladd who passed away many years ago. One of his last communications to me was in 1989 when he dictated two wonderful tapes for me describing his memories of service in 30 Squadron as a contribution towards our book “The Avengers”.

He apparently was reading from his diary and commenced by describing his crew, which were allocated to him when he received his own personal TBF Avenger. He certainly had a sense of humour, or rather he thought that his superiors did, as he claimed that the navigator and wireless air gunner were both the youngest and oldest members of the 30 Squadron aircrew which was rather complimentary to himself whom he considered to be the oldest TBF pilot in NZ.

Nevertheless they made a fine team and shared their off duty days on Bouganville together. One such adventure was when they decided to explore the scene of one of the battle areas outside the defense perimeter when the heavy shelling had died down. Naturally being curious they wandered around until hailed by a Marine Officer and smartly ordered in no uncertain terms to get back to their camp as the area was off limits and extremely dangerous.

Fred was well known for his collection of poems and the following one which was copied out off his tape by my good friend Joan Pederson (WAAF 3500 Menzies. J.), will surely bring back fond memories. Possibly it was of American origin but I can't be sure.

I wanted wings and got the damn things, Now I don't want them any more,
They taught me how to fly.
Then brought me here to die.
I've a belly full of war.

Your can take those zeros.
And those God damn heroes,
Co's all those flying crosses,
Do not compensate for losses,
I wanted wings and got the God damn things,
Now I don't want them any more.

 

I'm too young to die in a Yankee PBY,
That's for the eager,
Not for me,
I can't trust to luck,
To get picked up in a duck,
When I crash into the sea,

I'd rather be a bell hop,
Than a flyer in a flat top,
With my hand around a bottle,
Not around a God damn throttle,
I wanted wings and I got the damn things,
Now I don't want them any more.

You can take those miszibitsees,
And those yellow sons of bitches,
I'd rather be a woman,
Than shot down in a Grumman,
I wanted wings and I got the damn things,
Now I don't want them any more.

A Grumman war song but we didn't really mean it.

While searching through my huge pile of correspondence I find more names of loyal members of our wonderful fraternity who sadly have passed over the great divide, these are

Alan Northey Tauranga – 30 SU supply division, December 2002

Bruce Chapman Timaru – 30 SU motor transport, September 2002

Finally in closing I wish to pass on from our Christchurch members their best wishes and regards to all the North Island members and a request to keep in touch by dropping them a line from time to time.

From myself, thank you everyone for your interesting letters and please keep the mail flowing in order that I can continue to write the newsletters./

Sincerely

Wally Ingham.

 

 

 

 

 

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Webmaster's Footnote:
To add to the newsletter above, subsequently the Grumman Avenger was moved back into No. 1 Hangar at Wigram, regaining it s pride of place in the Air New Zealand Hall, the RNZAF Museum's main display hangar. Also the Hudson now resides in the same hangar. The P40E is still in No. 2 Hangar undergoing a painstaking restoration, as is the Vildebeest as it continues the slow restoration backto former glory.

The RNZAF Museum does not own a Ventura (the only example in New Zealand is at Motat in Auckland). Nor does it own a Corsair these days. They did have a Corsair, but it was an F4U-5N, from the Korean War era, and was significantly different from the F4U-1's and -1D's and the FG-1D's used by the RNZAF. Initially work had commenced to backdate the Corsair to the earlier model to represent a New Zealand example, but this work ceased and the Corsair was swapped for the P40E Kittyhawk, which will eventually join the Hudson, Avenger and C-47 in representing the Pacific War.

Dave Homewood

 

Issue No. 32

 

30 Squadron and Servicing Unit Newsletter No. 32
June 2003

Dear 30 Squadron and Servicing Unit members.

We may be getting old but judging by the volume of our mailbag it appears that many of us still have plenty to talk about.

A very interesting email arrived a short while ago from one of our aircrew members Jack Simpson, who was a navigator sharing operations on Bouganville with Pilot George Howell and wireless operator Turret Gunner Dick Badland.

More surprising was the fact that at his local RSA he met one Bryan Pope who turned out to be 30 Squadron's Armament Officer (long time missing) which is good news for us and no doubt bad news for those remaining armourers who now will have to behave themselves! (A later chapter regarding Bryan Pope will be found further on in this newsletter).

Jack was also confused with P. E. Pope as listed in our book “The Avengers” however I can assure him that this is correct as P. E. Pope was in fact our Engineer Officer who replaced F/O Bill Steven who became ill and had to return to NZ for treatment. P. E. Pope was a very quiet retiring man who never joined us in our early reunions. In fact he distanced himself from these and finally died in Christchurch many years ago.

Jack had enclosed a selection of photos from his collection including two from Bryan Pope, which naturally were about armourers and showed a group of armourers busy loading a TBF with a batch of 500/lb'ers. (or were they pretending ??)

 

Another photo was a front on picture of a TBF with the RH U/c damaged and being supported by a large crane. On the back was written “A 30 Squadron Avenger loses it's leg during take off Bouganville 1944”. This I doubt very much as surely we erks would have known about it very quickly if it was one of ours. Again it had no NZ serial number painted on the lower nose cowling, which indicated that it probably belonged to another squadron. Finally I searched through both the Squadron and Servicing Unit operational records and there was no mention of it having occurred. Perhaps someone may be able to shed some light on this particular incident.

A letter arrived from Jack Webb of Christchurch whom I had referred to in my last newsletter. Jack was an NCO in 30 SU and recalls the following quote

______________________

“Here is a short story about 30 SU.

In Bouganville after the finish of the TBF's we were sent back to Guadalcanal to receive the new aircraft, (Corsair F4U's). The aircraft were parked on the East side of the runway (the sea side of the runway) while servicing and cleaning them.

I was with a group of engineers when an American Officer came up to us and said could a group of entertainers have their photos taken with us, and our aircraft?

They were: Bob Hope- actor, Jerry Corrona – Entertainer (had big eyes and a large black moustache; and two girls, tap dancers Carol Landers & Patsy Kelly”

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I too remember seeing these people when they put on an evening's entertainment, particularly Gerry Corrona and Carol Landers whom I thought were outstanding. I also have a vague recollection of Gary Cooper also being present but I may have confused it with another occasion. Incidentally Gary Cooper wore a topee and was quite bald, which was most surprising as he was my favourite cowboy.

VMBT 232's newsletter arrived the other day together with a very nice letter from Art Surtees the editor, in which he answered my enquiry regarding the “Cushman Scooter” that 30 Squadron were somehow or other issued with.

Art says that regarding the Cushman scooters, he doesn't recall ever having them in the Squadron, however other service squadrons may have used them. They were very popular here in the States after the war until the Italian and Japanese imports took over.

Recently a wonderful email message arrived from Barbara Evison in which she advised that all is well and that her friends and family have been fattening her up with constant lunches and dinners, and won't leave her alone to brood. She appreciates all the notes and phone calls she has received from down under and looks forward to the newsletters which bring back all those happy memories of long ago. Incidentally her email address is beverson1@adelphia.net for those who would like to contact her.

For those than can't remember, Barbara is the wife of the late Colonel Ken Everson VMBT 232 and it was these two who in June 1981 bravely ventured down to NZ to make the first official contact with NZ 30 Squadron since 1944.

 

I well remember the day when the late Mike O'Malley and self went to meet them on their arrival at Auckland's International Airport, and then to take them across to Gisborne just in time for the Queen's Birthday reunion. When we eventually arrived in Gisborne, there was a large crowd of 30 Squadron members waiting to greet the visitors, and from then on our renewed fellowship with our American friends of Marine VMBT 232 and Navy VT305 never looked back. Unfortunately, having flown non-stop from the USA they became victims of “Jet Lag” and found it extremely difficult to keep awake, however, in spite of this, they did a magnificent job to the delight of everyone.

Recently I received an unusual visitor named Peter Carr-Smith from Rotorua who was a (retired) Lt Commander from the NZ Navy reserve where he had served for over 30 years. At present he is compiling the story of the sad and fatal crash of one of 30 Squadron's Harvard aircraft on 11th November 1943 at a tiny place called Pouawa which is situated on the coast approximately 20 miles North of Gisborne. Brief details of the accident are recorded in our book “The Avengers” (pp 26-27), however what is more interesting is the fact that he is married to Susan Holden the daughter of the farmer who had rescued one of the pilots F/O Nilson from the wreckage. And even more interesting is the fact that she had actually witnessed the final moments of the spectacular crash from a window in their house.

Peter told me that the reason for the project was to make known to his children and other members of the family the story of their Grandfather (now deceased) of whom they knew so little, about his bravery and how he had been awarded the highest civilian honour in the land, the “George Cross”.

It is nice indeed to know that others outside of the 30 Squadron members are making the effort to record some of the history of those epic times – sad that they were.

 

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Sadly, I have been advised that Colin Smith, 30 Servicing Unit Engine Fitter and husband of the later Marion Smith passed away on the 3rd of April following a period of acute illness at the Taranaki Base Hospital. Margaret Milson, wife of the late Harry Milson 30 SU Engine Fitter, Tauranga, writes that the four of them had been such wonderful friends and had enjoyed sharing the regular pilgrimage to Gisborne to attend our annual Queen's Birthday reunions.

Following the news from Jack Simpson concerning Bryan Pope, I wrote to him and “welcomed him aboard” as our US Navy friends would say. Bryan's reply was very interesting particularly as he briefly described how he was in the mid 1940's to 1943 serving with the RAF until instructed to return to NZ urgently!

His description is as follows:

You may be interested in how I became involved with 30 SU. Although I was a pre war Territorial (Wellington Squadron) I was overseas with the RAF by mid 1940. In 1943 I received an instruction to join with other armourer –NEO's and return to NZ urgently. This involved an Atlantic crossing in the Queen Mary and a three day train journey to San Francisco and a long stay on an island in the San Francisco Harbour. To get ashore we caught a launch, which also served Alcatraz, the maximum security federal prison. We travelled on the daily supply run Finally we were picked up by a Liberty troop ship and dumped at Auckland (I use ‘dumped' adversely).

 

Then I found out that they had no knowledge of our mission, indeed of us. But 30SU were short an armament officer “and you might as well go to Gisborne”.

I pointed out that I had been overseas for more than three years and a couple of weeks leave would be welcome. They had an answer to that “We'll send someone up to release you as soon as we can find one”. No one came, for which I was glad in the end.

I consider his story very interesting and important because very little has ever been recorded generally relating to the recall back to NZ of probably thousands of trained and experienced NZ Airmen who were desperately needed to help defend NZ. Many of these particularly aircrews were assigned to 30 Squadron and some sadly were lost during the onslaught on Rabaul. Even 8GR Gisborne suffered when F/O Harry Kinder was lost at sea in his Vildbeeste together with his crew of F/O G Turnball (observer) and Sgt. N Stewart (W/operator air gunner).

It is interesting to note that Harry Kinder went overseas to the Far East stationed at Kluang Johore, then Singapore, and was eventually evacuated from Malaya back to NZ in May 1942, and then was immediately posted to 8GR Squadron.

It is tragic indeed that these men had endured some of the heaviest operations in both Europe and the Far East and survived, then to be lost in the defence of NZ.

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Some time ago I wrote about the late Terry Dempsy 30 SU Flight Rigger who's son John Dempsy (Wellington) is rebuilding a WW2 Jeep and painting it to represent the one which was procured and used by 30SU for some time on Bouganville. RNZAF Headquarters found out about the procurement and held a court of enquiry as to why it had been exchanged for the Motor Cycle. They subsequently posted our excellent F/Sgt. John Freakes (Supply division 30 SU) to the furthest outpost of the RNZAF in the Pacific as punishment for something which was not of his doing, but in fact had been arranged by other senior NCO's in 30SU.

John Dempsy has since contacted me, and being one of those fanatically fastidious re-builders of cars where authenticity is the main aim requires the following data or information that possibly some one could remember or has a photo of, as follows:

1. What was the colour of the Jeep (I think it was US Navy grey)?

2. What was the manufacturer's serial number painted on each side of the bonnet?

Although the chances of anyone being able to remember such detail is remote indeed, who knows but someone may be able to recall and describe some little detail which may be of help to John, who would be grateful.

 

 

I have just found a very humorous notice dreamed up by 8GR Squadron in 1942 concerning the proposed formation of the “Gisborne Gliding Club” using a modern V. Vincent Glider. I note that S/L I. G. Morrison had been nominated the Patron and the President F/Lt M Wilkes. The advisory board consisted of F/Sgts Dalton, Wallace, Baber and Sgts Davidson, Sheather, Byrne and Neville. I'm sure that all those names sound very familiar to you (refer to the photocopy attached).

Sadly the photocopy was not supplied

Finally, I must apologise if I have not replied to some of you who have so kindly taken the trouble to write, however, please be assured that I will do my best in the near future.

Keep those letters coming! Your efforts are necessary and appreciated.

Wally Ingham.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Webmaster's Footnote: Just a footnote regarding the 30SU Jeep, I don't know if this example belongs to Mr John Dempsy, but I photographed this Jeep in Novemeber 2005 at the Armistace Day Commemorations here in Cambridge. It was painted to represent a 30SU Jeep, and carried the Boogie Woogie Bugle Girls (Andrews Sisters impersonators) around the Town Square during a lolly scramble.

 

 

 

 

Issue No. 33
August 2003

 

30 Squadron and Servicing Unit Newsletter No. 33
August 2003

Dear 30 Squadron and Servicing unit members

In my previous newsletter I referred to the fact that we may be getting old however more than ever this has since been qualified by several of the recent letters I have received lately. One such letter from Tom Sheahan in Gisborne enclosed a photo taken at the last Queens Birthday get together of those who had managed to meet for the annual dinner and memorial arrived on Sunday morning at Gisborne Airport.

There were only eleven people in the group and believe it or not nine of these were ladies! – Only two were men. Tom Sheahan and Ian Bills were present with their wives the remainder being widows resident in Gisborne. Sadly it is obvious that Father time is fast catching up with us. Tom also advised that Mary Wakelin is spending a few days in hospital following a slight heart attack and Ron Wakelin is being transferred to a rest home until things settle down. Mary and Ron our best wishes to you both from all of us 30 Squadron and Servicing unit members, and our sincere thanks for your marvellous hospitality shown to us during those wonderful and memorable past annual reunions when we were young.

Talking of reunions we are still planning to hold another function in Auckland at the end of the year however Peter Rix advises that there may be a hitch with obtaining our regular venue due to planned alterations to the Community Hall but both Vemba and Peter assure me that things are being sorted our and the matter will be finalized in a few weeks time.

A while back I received a telephone call from Loyed Darroch the son of Red Darroch, Orewa (Hibiscus Coast) advising that his father was in the North Shore hospital following a stroke, but assuring me that he was OK and both of them enjoyed reading the newsletter and to be sure to keep sending them on.

Red of course in his hey-day was a very active member of 30 SU Instrument section in Bouganville, whose hobby was Butterfly collecting, and I can still remember this big well built fellow careering around the jungle with a large butterfly net – whether or not he ever caught any is a different matter but no doubt he tried. Another activity of Red's was surf life saving and patrolling the beach with his American mates when off duty. What is not well known is that he actually trained quite a few airmen and conducted qualifying exams for the NZ Life Saving Society. How I know this is because a certain member phoned me one day asking for Red's address as he and a few others were still waiting for their medals, which had been promised by Red and were now at least 50 years overdue!

 

Both or our American counterpart squadrons Marine VMBT-232 and Navy VT 305 although still actively providing interesting newsletters thanks to Art Surtees and Robby Smith are like ourselves finding it difficult to organise reunions for exactly the same reasons as ourselves due of course to natural attrition and distance.

The last newsletter from VT305 contained two outstanding articles, which if space is available will be reproduced for all to enjoy.

The first one being a story of how the American Forces familiar call of Taps (The equivalent of our “Lights out and reveille”) came into being. A truly beautiful but sad tale. We will put it in this newsletter. The second one, a ‘Reunion' poem, will follow in the next newsletter.

The Story of Taps

This came through my email and is very worthy of passing along, especially now that our country is again at war.

We all know the haunting melody and this is the story of how it came to be a part of life for those who have served in our armed forces. Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during our Civil War when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men at Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if he was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.

Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When he finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb from shock. In the dim light he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, he has enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military funeral, despite the enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of band members play a funeral dirge at the ceremony. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate, but out of respect for the father they did say they could give him

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only one musician.

The father chose a bugler and asked him to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. The request was granted and, the haunting melody we now know as Taps used at sundown and military funerals, was born. The words are:

"Day is done… Gone the sun…From the lakes… from the Hills From the sky All is well, Safely rest… God is high Fading light Dims the sight And a star Gems the sky Gleaming bright From afar Drawing nigh Falls the night Thanks and praise For our days ‘Neath the sun ‘Neath the stars ‘Neath the sky As we go This we know God is nigh."

The other a long and hilarious poem titled “The Reunion” which is almost identical to our own present predicament, and in fact it is amazing how similar we in NZ are to our American cousins in all aspects.

Had a wonderful and informative letter from Doug Black of Napier a while back who kindly corrected my efforts to attempt to answer Jack Simpson's query and discovery or our missing armament Officer, P/O P E Pope in last month's newsletter #32 June 2003. Doug advises that it was F/O John Hope (not Pope) who was the 30 Squadron and Servicing unit's Engineering Officer who replaced our original Engineering Officer the late Bill Stevens on Bouganville when the latter was invalidated back to NZ for medical reasons. My apologies for my error and confusion that this had incurred as well as the fact that our Avenger book is incorrect listing the Engineering Officer as P E Hope and should be corrected to read P/O John Hope, Christchurch. Thank you Doug for your efforts.

Doug also referred to one of our 8GR pilots named John McFarlane who was also our ace aerobatic pilot during his short stay in Gisborne. Unfortunately he was head hunted by another well known fighter pilot some time on 1943 who was in the process of forming #16 P40 Squadron. Sadly, both of them when on Operations over New Britain (Rabaul) were killed on 17th December 1943 although John initially survived a crash landing, was taken prisoner by the Japanese forces and subsequently executed by be-heading – a sad ending indeed for another of our brave young men who gave their life in NZ's hour of need.

A short while back I received an unusual phone call from a young student from Auckland Grammar School (one of the most highly regarded secondary schools in Auckland) who explained that his form teacher had assigned him a project concerning the study of a soldier, sailor or airman who had been involved in the Pacific and who had lost their life during enemy action.

 

After searching the files for some reason or other he chose the name of F/O R D Gardner 30 Squadron who was killed 26th April 1944, and in order to obtain more information he was advised by the staff to contact yours truly who would be able to assist with further details.

To explain how I came to be involved readers may be interested that I had provided 21 names of 8GR, 30 Squadron and 31 Squadron members who were killed on active service including obtaining their service records from the NZ Defence Force – Personnel Archives, Wellington and in due course had presented these to the Museum (Armoury Resource Centre) for their records.

While studying Ron (Snow) Gardner's service record it was discovered that Ron had been a pupil at the Auckland Grammar School pre-war and no doubt would have probably known the young Ed Hillary but the strange thing was that his service record showed only that he had obtained his wings and was then posted to #30 Squadron when it was formed in late 1943 nothing whatsoever concerning his service in 8GR 1942-43, first as a Sgt Pilot then promoted to F/Sgt. Many of us knew him well and I have a photo of him in the 8GR Tiger Moth when he taxied it up the main street of Gisborne (myself holding on to its wing tip) as part of a procession of floats to promote a War-bonds drive for the NZ Government.

I then searched my copy of #8GS's operational record book but amazingly there was no entry for any NCOs/Pilots at all, it appears that the adjutant-writer (our late Split Pin Jim Aitken) recorded only officers including movements, postings and such persons as Dental Officers – defence officers as well as operational patrols searches etc and am fast beginning to think that there was a definite dividing line between officers and NCOs

To establish the last resting place of Ron Gardner I contacted the Ministry of Veteran Affairs and promptly received 8 pages of information relating to the crew of NZ2507 and the following extract is detailed thus: Enclosed please find printouts from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's web site re the crew of NZ2507. They all have unknown graves and are commemorated on the Bourail Memorial to the missing in Bourail Cemetery, New Caledonia.

Our young student now has a full record of Ron's services and when completed he has assured me that I will receive a copy of his project for our records. It is very pleasing indeed that the younger generation are still taking an interest in those events, which occurred almost 60 years ago, when many of our comrades were sacrificed in order to defend New Zealand.

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Received a nice letter from Barbara Falconer of Taupo a while back advising that her husband R A (Dick) Falconer had died on July 5th 2003. F/O Dick Falconer arrived on Bouganville in May 1944 from 31 Squadron together with his crew of F/Sgt Ripley and Sgt Buckingham as one of three replacement crews needed to bring 30 Squadron aircrew up to strength.

Barbara writes that Dick always took a great interest in any books on the Pacific war and always enjoyed receiving our newsletter as he had many happy memories of his experiences with our squadron. In fact he contributed to our newsletter with a humorous account of dropping two one hundred pound bombs down the opening of a volcano in Rabaul just to even things up a bit (See newsletter # 26 June 2002).

Please don't forget to keep those letters arriving as they are needed to help in recalling the memories of so long ago.

Happy memories.

Wally Ingham

 

 

 

 

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Issue No. 34
October 2003

 

30 Squadron and Servicing Unit Newsletter No. 34
October 2003

Dear Members

Such a lot has transpired since our last newsletter that it is difficult to decide where to start, however I am pleased to be able to confirm that this year's annual mini reunion has now been finalized and will be held on Sunday 2nd November at 1.30PM in the usual venue, The Pakuranga Park Village Assembly Hall.

A total of 38 members, their friends and minders were present at the last get-together and hopefully after allowing for natural attrition we will be hoping for at least 30 members to attend and enjoy our unique friendship while we are still able.

Bryan James, the son of Noel James telephoned recently to advise that Noel James' health has deteriorated lately and has had to be transferred to a private rest home where he can receive 24 hour care as needed. Bryan has assured me that his Father is as cheerful as ever mentally alert and even though he is approaching 90 years young will be only too pleased to hear from any of the lads. For further information please contact Bryan on Telephone Home 07-866-5744 or Work 07-866 4690.

Ted Harrison Howick (31 Squadron aircrew) telephoned to advise that the island mentioned by P. Pope the 30 SU Armament Officer when he was returning to NZ was a well known staging location used by many of the Canadian trained NZ aircrews following their training, and was known as Angel Island. Ted recalls that he too spent quite a while there while awaiting transport back to NZ.

Last month I had a surprised telephone call from no other than Bill Dunshea who is residing in a Whangarei rest home.

 

What is amazing is that I have not heard or seen from Bill since he was my flat mate in Gisborne in 1943 although we went away together in 30 SU we apparently were well and truly separated until this chance telephone conversation almost 60 years later.

For those who cannot remember Bill was an engine fitter and so from all of us old friends “Welcome aboard” as the US Navy would say.

Another member that has lost touch with us is George Brassel of 84 New York Street, Martinborough who up to 3 years ago was extremely active and always attended our earlier mini reunions – He was in 30 SU transport section and was very popular with the Armourers particularly as he always came armed with the odd bottle of Whiskey. In fact it was George who accompanied our small group when we were guests of VMBT 322 at their Las Vegas reunion in 1993, a truly memorable occasion which will always be foremost in my memory particularly the visits to El Torro and Tustin Marine Air Base's as well as visiting Corona Del Mar as guests of Barbara and the late Ken Everson at their home.

Would anyone who knows the whereabouts of our George please speak up and advise particularly as I am aware that he is still receiving our newsletters otherwise they would have been “returned to sender”.

Recently I received a telephone call from another of our rapidly diminishing 30 Sqdn. Pilots by name of Sir Frank Holmes who wished to express his sympathy concerning our reference to the passing of his mates Dick Falconer, Taupo, and Ron “Snow” Gardner in the previous newsletter.

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Now Frank was once a young pilot together with Dick Falconer in 31 Squadron, both of whom with their respective crews were on posted to 30 Squadron in Bouganville to replace our casualties and found themselves quickly having to share operations with a far more experienced team who were already accustomed to the rigorous tasks required of them.

Frank also referred to Ron Gardner with whom he recalled had previously shared a hut with him and was most appreciative of the help and advice that Ron was able to give him at that time.

Hopefully Frank will be able to provide more of his recollections at a later date for inclusion in our newsletters.

Yet another old friend by name of Red Darroch phoned in recently to let us know that he is still in the land of the living following a horrendous period in the North Shore Public Hospital. He has recently been discharged (refer previous newsletter #33) and is now staying with his son Loyd. Unfortunately his memory is not the best and he needs continuous care, so it looks very much as though those hopeful recipients for the NZ Life-saving certificates gained in Bouganville back in 1944 will miss out.

Barbara Everson forwarded a lovely letter a while back assuring us that she is well and keeping herself busy by reading all of her late husband Ken Everson's letters which he had kept on file. One letter she discovered had been written by none other than our former Intelligence officer the late Tom Kent, dated April 1946 and accordingly she has returned it to us in the hope that it may be of interest.

 

Yes Barbara it certainly is as it explains quite a lot that happened to Tom at the end of our tour in the Pacific and before he returned to his home in Gisborne.

It transpired that Tom returned to NZ and then toured around various RNZAF stations giving lectures until reposted as an Intelligence officer to a NZ Corsair squadron operating from Torokina strip on Bouganville.

The second tour took him to Emirau and in February 1945 fate took a hand when returning from the strip one evening. The Jeep he was driving skidded and when the brakes were applied they seized with the result that the occupants piled up in the water channel with the Jeep on top of them. One boy was killed, and the other two taken to Acorn 7 Hospital.

Tom's injuries were concussion, facial abrasions, dental injury, right arm crushed at elbow, with nerve and muscle injuries as well as internal troubles.

After some weeks in Acorn 7 an aircraft took him back to NZ where he spent 9 months in the Auckland hospital undergoing general operations to his face and arm. He was then sent to the Service Convalescent hospital in Rotorua. Apparently this particular letter was typed while he was still convalescing, his arm being slightly stiff and partly paralysed. However he did eventually return to Gisborne and settled down with his wife and family.

Yes Barbara it certainly is as it explains quite a lot that happened to Tom at the end of our tour in the Pacific and before he returned to his home in Gisborne.

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It transpired that Tom returned to NZ and then toured around various RNZAF stations giving lectures until reposted as an Intelligence officer to a NZ Corsair squadron operating from Torokina strip on Bouganville.

The second tour took him to Emirau and in February 1945 fate took a hand when returning from the strip one evening. The Jeep he was driving skidded and when the brakes were applied they seized with the result that the occupants piled up in the water channel with the Jeep on top of them. One boy was killed, and the other two taken to Acorn 7 Hospital.

Tom's injuries were concussion, facial abrasions, dental injury, right arm crushed at elbow, with nerve and muscle injuries as well as internal troubles.

After some weeks in Acorn 7 an aircraft took him back to NZ where he spent 9 months in the Auckland hospital undergoing general operations to his face and arm. He was then sent to the Service Convalescent hospital in Rotorua. Apparently this particular letter was typed while he was still convalescing, his arm being slightly stiff and partly paralysed. However he did eventually return to Gisborne and settled down with his wife and family.

It was then that he became active in helping to organise the early reunions of 30 Squadron and Servicing Unit. His one main contribution that I can remember was in obtaining a supply of black and yellow horizontally striped ties, which were issued to all members for recognition purposes. This was in the very early stages when it was a men only show however some bright spark had the bright idea of snipping off the lower half of each tie with a pair of scissors and nailing these up in the rafters of the rugby hall. Naturally things started to hot up particularly when pie throwing was introduced. At this point in time the ladies who's only entertainment was a visit to the local movies took a firm stand and issued an ultimatum – Either we join in the fun (?) or else it is all off!!!

 

This resulted in the committee hastily agreeing to clean up the act, invite the ladies to join in, incorporate a dinner dance social occasion together with fun and games of a more respectable nature.

The rest is now history because the annual Queen's Birthday weekend occasion became so popular that it seemed that it would never end however sadly by the mid 1990's even the committee came to realise that all good things had to end sometime as father time was slowly taking over and the lads and ladies were finding it extremely difficult to travel such long distances at their age.

It is appropriate there that this newsletter should end with the following poem titled “The Reunion” and copied from VT305 (Staying Alive) newsletter hopefully with the approval of the editor Robby Roberts.

Best wishes and don't forget our mini reunion on 2 nd November.

Wally Ingham.

LAST POST

D. A. Dunn Hastings 30 SU Died 30 June 2003

R. A. Falconer Taupo 30 SU Died 5 July 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

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REUNION

Every ten years, as summertime nears,
An announcement arrives in the mail.
A reunion is planned, it'll really be grand,
Make plans to attend without fail.

Il'l never forget the first time we met,
We tried so hard to impress.
We drove fancy cars, smoked big cigars,
And wore our most elegant dress.

It was quite an affair, the whole class was there,
It was held at a fancy hotel.
We wined and we dined, and we acted refined,
And everyone thought it was swell.

The men all conversed about who had been first
To achieve great fortune and fame.
Meanwhile their spouses described their fine houses
And how beautiful their children became.

The homecoming queen, who once had been lean,
Now weighed in at one-ninety-six,
And the jocks that were there had all lost their hair
And cheerleaders could no longer do kicks.

No one had heard about the class nerd,
Who'd guided a spacecraft to the moon.
Or poor little Jane, who's always been a pain,
She married a shipping tycoon .

The boy we'd decreed "most apt to succeed"
Was serving ten years in the pen,
While the one voted “least" now was a priest,
Just shows you can be wrong now and then.

They awarded a prize to one of the guys
Who seemed to have aged the least.
Another was given to the grad who had driven
The farthest to attend the feast.

They took a class picture, a curious mixture
Of beehive, crew cuts and wide ties.
Tall, short, or skinny, the style was the mini
You never saw so many thighs.

At our next get-together, no one cared whether
They impressed their classmates or not.
The mood was Informal, a whole lot more normal,
By this time we'd all gone to pot.

It was held out-of-doors, at the lake shores,
We ate hamburgers, coleslaw and beans,
Then most of us lay around in the shade,
In our comfortable T-shirts and jeans.

By the fiftieth year, it was abundantly clear,
We were definitely over the hill.
Those who weren't dead had to crawl out of bed,
And be home in time for their pill .

And now I can't wait as they've set the date,
Our sixtieth is coming I'm told.
It should be a ball, they've rented a hall,
At the Shady rest home for the old.

Repairs have been made on my old hearing aid,
My pacemakers been turned up on high.
My wheelchair is oiled and my teeth have been boiled,
And I've bought a new wig and glass eye.

I'm feeling quite hearty, I'm ready to party,
I'll dance until dawn's early light.
It'll be lots of fun , and I hope that just one
Other person can make it that night.

Author Unknown

 

Issue No. 35
December 2003

 

30 Squadron and Servicing Unit Newsletter No. 35
December 2003

Dear Friends,

This will be the last newsletter for 2003 however my mailbag is as full as ever with so many articles of interest that it appears to be never ending.

Sadly I have to announce another two deaths namely: Jack Webb of Christchurch and Laurie Fairey of Auckland, both of whom I will refer to in this newsletter.

The surprise letter was from 30 Squadron Aircrew member Alec McLeod of Greytown, who advised that our missing member George Brassel now resides in the Wherekake Retirement home, Oxford St, Martinborough. My records show that George must be approaching the 90 years young age and no doubt deserves the red carpet treatment. Alec says he is still hale and hearty but restricted in getting around and uses a “walker” to assist his mobility. His daughter keeps an eye on him and if she is not available there are at least two ladies to take him to bridge and even get his supper, being waited on hand and foot. Nice work George, it is nice to know that all is well with you.

Alec also refers to Gerald Burton whom I understand has had a spell of R & R in the local hospital. Apparently he is now well on to a full recovery particularly as he is planning to go to Wellington in December for a cricket test. Certainly Gerald our best wishes to you and we all sincerely hope that you are now enjoying full health once more.

On the 7th October I attended the funeral of Laurie Fairey accompanied by Vemba and Peter Rix, Les Bland, Dorreen Allan and believe it or not young James (Red) Darroch complete with his wheel-chair and attended by his minder son Graham who had transported Red all the way from his new residence at Rawene some 200 miles North of Auckland.

It transpired that both Laurie and Red were life time friends, they even enlisted together in the RNZAF, shared their initial training and instrument courses, both posted to Gisborne and shared the same tents on Bouganville.

Although Red's health is not good and is now confined to a wheel chair he was determined not to miss his best mates final farewell. To the surprise of all of us he requested to the minister that he be permitted to give a valedictory address. The minister immediately came down to him and stood by his wheel chair holding a microphone. It was indeed a very moving scene as in complete silence all the mourner's listened carefully to what he had to say. At the end of the service everyone remained back in order to congratulate him for his wonderful efforts and loyalty to his departed friend.

 

Had a very nice letter recently from Rae Rasmussen of Dargarville (30SU) who has been the President of the Northland branch of the RNZAF Association for the last six years. He is kept busy travelling back and forwards to Whangarei, which takes up a lot of his time. Any member who remembers him from our Bougainville days are requested to drop him a line at 28 Churchill Street, Dargarville.

In my previous newsletter I referred to a telephone call from Sgt. Frank Holmes who has since followed up with further details of his memories of F/O Ron (Snow) Gardner (Killed in action on 26-4-44) and the late F/O Dick Falconer (5-7-2003), the contents of which follow as a record of their service thus:-

Dear Wally

As I told you on the telephone, your newsletter No 33 for August brought back special memories for me.

You will know that my crew and I were the first replacements sent up to join 30 Squadron. This meant that our training at Gisborne was cut short by a month. Unlike the colleagues we were joining in 30 Squadron, we had no further training in or acclimatisation to tropical conditions on the way up. We arrived on 24th April 1944. One of the occupants of the hut to which I was shown was Flying Officer Snow Gardner. Snow was particularly helpful to me in introducing me to others, advising on the more important features of camp and squadron operation and explaining what I needed to do to avoid problems.

We had a concentrated set of briefings on 25th April on what we were expected to do, the geography of Bouganville and New Britain and the procedures we should follow on the ground and in the air on strikes in the area. During that day we were given one hour and five minutes flying time in the TBF to become accustomed to the circuit procedures on the Piva airstrip and to practise a little air gunnery.

Early on 26th April, understandably rather apprehensive with such a short-term and concentrated preparation, we were sent on our first major strike on the heavily defended Vunakanau airstrip in Rabaul. I was in Snow's section. As we were in the final dive, I saw a flash in front of me and to my left. However I was too preoccupied with opening the bomb bay and aiming at the target to pay much attention to what might have caused such a flash. On our return, we found that Bob Cameron had reported that he had seen Snow Gardner's aircraft hit in both wings simultaneously at about 5000 feet. Harold Kelsey had also observed debris from a plane as we made our dive.

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Further interrogation revealed that the aircraft had crashed on the Southeastern end of the runway, exploded and burst into flames. The disaster was naturally a considerable shock to me and my young crew. It was made the more poignant for me because of Snow's kindness to me on the two previous days. I was interested in your information on Snow in the newsletter. I shall look forward to your report on the project that the young Auckland Grammar student is doing on him and his service.

On the day I rang you, I went over to see Harold and Betty Kelsey at their lovely home in Castor Bay. We had a very good chat about old times. I think you have seen Harold's excellent account of our own near-disaster in the strike on Vunakanau on 14th May in NZ2530 when a 40 millimetre Japanese shell entered the navigator's compartment, exploded and departed as shrapnel through the other side of the fuselage. To remind myself of the importance of luck in life, I often look at the memento of that occasion that a member of the ground staff made for me in the form of a small piece of shrapnel mounted on a piece of Perspex. NZ2530 was so badly damaged that it was out of action for a fortnight. Unfortunately, Flight Lieutenant Mel Greenslade and his crew of 31 Squadron flew it on its next trip to Rabaul and did not return.

I had intended to write to you myself about the passing of Dick Falconer. He was the third replacement sent up from 31 Squadron. After our service with the Avengers, we did a conversion course to fighters together at Ohakea and joined 24 Squadron, with which we completed two tours in Bouganville and Green Island. Dick sometimes said his most dangerous mission during that period was teaching me to drive. We saw a good deal of one another post-war. We and three other pilots who were hut mates during 24 Squadron's tours continued our friendship after the war. We have had a number of reunions, some of them including our wives. Dick and Barbara visited us at our home, with their son Peter and his wife, a few months before Dick passed away. He was a fine fellow and a good friend, with a great sense of humour. Nola and I remember fondly trips in the early pre war period with Dick and Barbara in their car, which Dick called Connie-short for constipation – because it never passed anything on the road. He will be greatly missed, not only by Barbara and their family but also by many friends.

Best wishes,

Yours sincerely

Frank Holmes.

 

Jack Webb was a corporal rigger with 30 SU on Bouganville, and has unfortunately not enjoyed good health for the last year of so. In fact when I was last in Christchurch earlier in the year I spoke to him on the telephone for quite a while as he was unable to attend our local reunion because of failing health at that time but sent his apologies and wished to be remembered to all his mates in 30SU and Squadron.

Sadly his wife phoned me to advise that he had finally passed away on 27th August 2003.

I had many letters from members advising me of the passing of Laurie Fairly – one of these in the form of an E-mail, was from Ken Sellars of Christchurch who was a great friend of his and who had enjoyed a close association with him ever since the 30SU days. Ken had given me a rev up concerning his E-mail address which is ken8002@free.net.nz and hopefully remarks that one never knows but some 30SU type may bestir himself and flick him an E-mail so come on all you wiz kids give him a message.

While on the subject of instrument section members I contacted another by name of Art Talmage, who lives in Tauranga and was well known on Bouganville for making his fortune by cutting his mates hair (our newsletter #5 refers). Arthur even supplied a photo of him cutting or trimming Graham Eteveneaux's hair with a group of grinning customers L Davis, Neil Hughes and possibly Red Darroch waiting patiently for the shearing to commence. Unfortunately Art had recently suffered a stroke, which had affected his speech but was determined to make a full recovery and from what I could hear was making remarkable progress. For those who wish to contact him his address is H. A. Talmage, 106 Ocean Shore Village, 80 Maranui St, Tauranga, and E-mail marat@xtra.co.nz

I am pleased to announce that our mini-reunion was a great success after all thanks to the efforts of our hosts Vemba and Peter Rix.

Naturally we were concerned that due to natural attrition it would be a waste of time however a surprising total of 21 members and their minders turned up and a wonderful time was had by all. Naturally it was much quieter than those early Gisborne turnouts when we were young and pie-throwing was the norm. Nevertheless all were content just to have a wonderful afternoon tea and talk about our service life long long ago.

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Apologies were received from Bev Staunton who was at present in Christchurch looking after her older sister, Hal Ingham who had no transport and Arthur Talmage of Tauranga all of whom if circumstances permitted assured me that they would certainly have attended.

Our oldest attendee was non other than Sam Toon who is now 90 plus and will be remembered as our senior engineering NCO in #8GR during our Gisborne days. Unfortunately just as our new TBF's arrived Sam was promoted and posted to another unit going overseas. However it is nice to have him back with us after all those years.

Another member who no doubt would have attended if circumstances would have permitted was non other than the great Eric Kelly whose claim to fame was being an armourer in 30 SU, however he took time off to both write and telephone me in order to insure that the Auckland members were up to speed regarding claims for Veteran Pensions and also a wonderful new innovation from Veteran's Affairs NZ called “Case Management” which invites all Veterans who have served in a recognised war or emergency and who require a little help one way or other to contact them in Wellington on Free Phone 0800 483 8372 or by Fax on 04 495 2080 or by E-mail veterans@xtra.co.nz or by writing to PO Box 5146 Wellington.

Partners, ex-partners and children of eligible Veterans are also welcome to access this service. By contacting the above address, a case manager will be appointed who will in due course contact the person concerned to assist where possible to access services that will help them to stay in their own homes. In essence, Case Management is a service designed to provide War Veterans with one point of contact for the services you are both eligible to and entitled to.

Details of this was presented to those present at our reunion who all listened closely and expressed a keen interest in pursuing the matter further thank goodness, otherwise the great Kelly would have been on my back for ever and a day.

I was handed a copy of the 30 Squadron and SU's programs for the 42nd Annual Reunion 1988 which makes interesting reading, signed by Tom Sheahan who is now the only remaining member of that organising committee. It was noted that the event would take place at the “Ulverstone” Hinaki Street together with a reminder to ensure that the “Form 700” was filled in and returned promptly. What wonderful memories are held of those happy times when we were young and the “Gold-Top” flowed freely, as well as the final get together on the Monday afternoon at the Cosmopolitan Club prior to setting off for home. This later event only being attended by those still capable of standing the remainder still in bed and or suffering a terrible hangover!!

I recall also that at one of those reunions the phrase “The last one out please put our the lights” was coined as a joke, however with Father Time fast becoming more active these days it is now only a matter of time before this event does occur. I wonder who it will be???

Sadly I have just been informed that our old friend Ron Wakelin died peacefully on Monday 3rd November following a long illness and to his wife Mary our deepest sympathy from all our members and friends. Ron, a 30 Squadron navigator was one of the original committee members of the Gisborne 30 Squadron and SU reunion committee responsible for the Queen's Birthday weekend activities.

Recently I received a beautiful letter from another of our American fraternity Priscilla Smith in Brandon, Florida, USA, advising that her mother Choppie Smith passed away peacefully in her sleep following a short illness in a nursing rehabilitation centre.

Choppie of course is well known to all of us as the wife of the late Col. (Skipper) Rollie Smith who was the CO of Marine VMBT 232 during those hectic days on Bouganville (see Newsletter #28).

In recent years Choppie wrote all correspondence on behalf of Rollie, she was very talented and on the wall facing me as I write is a beautifully knitted plaque which she presented to me a long while ago embossed with the work “Welcome”. I will miss her beautiful letters very much.

This will be our last newsletter for the year 2003. My wife Betty and myself, and Julie (newsletter typist) wish you the best for the coming year, and to all of you a Merry Xmas.

Wally Ingham.

 

Last Post

Jack Webb 27 th August 2003

Choppie Smith 10 th September 2003

Laurie Fairey 3 rd October 2003

Ron Wakelin 3 rd November 2003

 

LEST WE FORGET

 

 


 

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